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Things to See and Do at Pioneer Days in Lincolnton, Georgia

May 28, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

In the Clark’s Hill region of Georgia, not too far from Augusta, I found the largest man-man lake east of the Mississippi, built by the Army Corps of Engineers. Nearly 72,000 acres of freshwater and 1,200 miles of shoreline grace this area, making it a favored destination for water sports, hunting, and camping.

Clarks Hill Lake

Clarks Hill Lake

Here’s the interesting thing about this lake. On the Georgia side, folks call it Clarks Hill Lake- likely because it borders Elijah Clark State Park. But, the opposite shores are in South Carolina, and there the name is J. Strom Thurmond Lake. Oh, how political power prevails. Nonetheless, bass fishing is good on either side.

Clarks Hill Lake

Clarks Hill Lake

In the Clark’s Hill area, you’ll find the counties of Columbia, Lincoln, McDuffie, Warren and Wilkes, each with its unpredictable attractions.

 

Disc Golf Museum

Disc Golf Museum

In Columbia, I stopped at the International Disc Golf Center, walked around the Augusta Canal headwater gates, visited the Laurel and Hardy Museum. In McDuffie, I saw the hounds on Belle Meade Fox Hunt grounds.

In Warren County, I ogled antique cars at the Ogeechee Car Museum and sipped tea in the tiny town of Jewell, population 35.

Ogeechee Car Museum

Ogeechee Car Museum

In Washington- Wilkes, I toured the historic buildings of Callaway Plantation, the City historical museum and stayed at the 1898 Fitzpatrick Hotel.

Belle Meade Hunt Dogs

Belle Meade Hunt Dogs

While I visited each of these sites, the main purpose of my trip was to attend Lincoln County’s Pioneer Days, held in the Lincoln County Historical Park. During my adventure, I stayed in a woodsy cabin on the grounds of Elijah Clark State Park. The two-bedroom, lakeside lodging came with all the creature comforts one could want. I highly recommend it and the park. Don’t miss the Elijah Clark Cabin, an enchanting replica based on descriptions of the Revolutionary War hero’s home.

Elijah Clark Cabin

Elijah Clark Cabin

The little town of Lincolnton, population around 1,500, hosts an annual event on the third Saturday in November. Pioneer Days attracts over 3,000 attendees who come to taste authentic southern and festival foods, watch period- dressed participants demonstrate old time equipment, and enjoy catching up with neighbors.

Entering Pioneer Days in the Lincolnton Historical Park.

Entering Pioneer Days in the Lincoln Historical Park.

 

You can see corn ground in a 1920’s grist mill, lumber cut at the sawmill, smoked meat in the smokehouse, an animal-run cotton gin, watch demonstrations in the blacksmith shop, and warm up by the fireplace in the 1790 Andrew Jackson Reid Log Cabin. There are antique tractors and engines on display. You can shop for sundries in the 1890’s Country Store, sit at a desk at the 1900’s Salem Schoolhouse and tour the early town’s doctor’s office. There’s also big-old Turpentine still, but they aren’t allowed to run it, and a small Quilt show.

The Turpentine Still

The Turpentine Still

Spinning

Spinning

So how did this 3.2 square mile town come to maintain such a grand historical park? The answer is Gary Edwards, President of the Historical Society. He didn’t move mountains, but he did move buildings to their current location, often saving them from destruction. Gary just doesn’t let go of the past.

Festival entertainment? Why, of course. Musical groups perform in the Lewis Family Pavilion and around the park grounds. One of the most popular was this banjo group playing some down home foot stompin music.

One of the favorite parts of my day was getting in line and filling my plate with slow cooked turnip greens, chicken and dumplings, red beans and rice, fried cornbread, fried okra, sausage biscuits and hoe cakes. There are also hot dogs and hamburgers for the little ones. This meal is honest southern cooking prepared by the Lincolnton ladies, and it is beyond satisfying and yummy.

Kids enjoying Pioneer Days.

Kids enjoying Pioneer Days.

Dessert comes out of another tent, and you better get in line early because demand is high Fresh apple fritters are the draw and ingredients run out about 2:00 in the afternoon. Lip-smacking delicious in my book.

If you would like to immerse yourself in a little town with tremendous spirit, make plans to attend Pioneer Days. And, even better— the event is free.

Abu Dhabi’s Beauty: Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque

May 20, 2015 by · Comments Off on Abu Dhabi’s Beauty: Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque 

Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

I made a trip to Abu Dhabi about a year ago and wrote about the magnificent Grand Mosque for Luxe Beat Magazine.

The article was published in May 2014. Please click on the link to read the article.

http://luxebeatmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Abu-Dhabis-Beauty-Sheik-Zayed-Grand-Mosque-UAE-Luxe-Beat-Magazine-May-2014.pdf

 

My Too Brief Visit to Natchitoches, Louisiana

May 6, 2015 by · Comments Off on My Too Brief Visit to Natchitoches, Louisiana 

Have you ever driven through a city or town and immediately wanted to stop and explore? That’s how I felt when I reached Natchitoches, Louisiana, site of the town in the movie Steel Magnolias. Fortunately, I had a few hours to spend, but the brief visit only increased my desire to return. The destination has much to offer.

Downtown Cane River Lake in Natchitoches LA

Downtown Cane River Lake in Natchitoches LA

Natchitoches (pronounced “Nack-a-tish”) is the oldest community in the Louisiana Purchase territory. Today, it’s the B&B capital of the state including many historic homes that look inviting for a girl’s getaway or romantic escape. The lively riverfront of the downtown district borders the beautifully landscaped Cane River Lake. I stopped into the Northwest Louisiana History Museum, which also houses the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Downtown Natchitoches

Downtown Natchitoches

I found the museum’s new (but year long) exhibition impressive: The Murals of Clementine Hunter. “Clementine Hunter is a great example of the creative genius who arises from the most unlikely circumstances,” said Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne at the exhibits opening on March 28, 2015. “After the age of 50, with little more than her own vision and fierce determination, she picked up a brush and painted her way to wide acclaim.”

Murals of Clementine Hunter
Wash Day – The Murals of Clementine Hunter

 

Hunter Murals-6

The Baptism by Clementine Hunter

 

Most of Hunter’s works document the social life and customs of the African-American community as she saw it. Her early days were spent picking cotton and pecans at Melrose Plantation, and eventually she moved into the Big House to help with kitchen and laundry duties. There her first creative endeavors were sparked; making dolls and quilting. One day she picked up a leftover paintbrush and started painting. She never stopped until a few days before her death at age 101.

Murals of Clementine Hunter
Murals of Clementine Hunter

 

She painted her memories, so we see an insider’s perspective on life from 1939 to 1988. The murals (removed for renovation from the walls of the African and Yucca House on Melrose Plantation) are large, four by eight feet. The size brings the viewer into the painting, and the primitive style provokes a level of understanding, not intimidation. Hunter often drew women larger than men because she saw them as more important.

Living History at Fort St. Jean Baptiste

Living History at Fort St. Jean Baptiste

I didn’t have time to visit the National Park site in Natchitoches: the Cane River Creole Plantation, which includes Oakland and Magnolia Plantations. I did make it out to Fort St. Jean Baptiste. The full-scale wooden reconstruction sits near the site of the original fort based upon archival research. Many of the interior buildings: a trading warehouse, powder magazine, church, commandant’s house, barracks, guardhouse, and bastions reminded me of those within St. Augustine’s fort. Costumed interpreters portray life during the period when French soldiers lived in Louisiana.

Costumed Interpreter

Costumed Interpreter

 

 

 

 

 

The Cane River used to pass by the fort and downtown district, but the river changed course in the 1830’s. The loss of the former port, bustling with cotton and sugar shipments, also changed the economy of the area. Natchitoches suffered through the Civil War and Great Depression and growth came slow during the industrial age. Tourism is now one of the primary sources of income. Visitors will find appealing shops, restaurants featuring Southern, Creole, and Cajun cuisine, comfortable lodging, museums and many National Historical Landmarks worthy of a tour.

The City of Natchitoches was established in 1714 and is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory. Historic Front Street, shown here, is part of the commercial heart of the 33-block National Historic Landmark District. (Photo by Mark Bills)

The City of Natchitoches was established in 1714 and is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory. Historic Front Street, shown here, is part of the commercial heart of the 33-block National Historic Landmark District. (Photo by Mark Bills)

 

 

 

If you go:

Natchitoches lies in Northwest Louisiana, 256 miles or about a 4-hour drive from New Orleans. Spots of interest along the way include Baton Rouge, Plantation Alley, Atchafalaya River Basin, Lafayette, and the Kisatchie National Forest.

Try the meat pies at Maglieaux’s on the Cane.

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